“The gods were cruel when they saw fit to test my vows. They waited until I was old. What could I have done when the ravens brought the news from the south? The ruin of my House, the death of my family. I was helpless, blind, frail. But when I heard they had killed my brother’s son, and his poor son, and the children! Even the little children!”
Maester Aemon, Game of Thrones
As I immersed myself in the story of Game of Thrones, I came to sympathize with a number of characters, particularly those who were young. I look at the three most prominent noble Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and relive the sad fate that their youngest members suffered. These children have been victims of their circumstances, their choices, and their ultimate fate.
To begin with, I would like to focus on the children of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen: Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon. Rhaenys was just an innocent little girl while Aegon was just an infant. Both of these kids suffered the consequences of their father’s and grandfather’s choices. At the end of Robert’s Rebellion, these kids lost their birthright to the Iron Throne and their lives. Rhaenys was stabbed to death by Amory Lorch, a knight loyal to the Lannisters. Aegon was ripped from his mother’s arms and had his skull caved in by Gregor Clegane. Both of these kids were brutally murdered before they had a chance to live. We do not even know if Prince Aegon is truly alive or not in the books. I often wonder what the lives of these kids would have turned out if they were allowed to live.
Second, the children of House Stark were a particularly unlucky batch. They lost their parents, their home, their birthright, and a few of their members. They were betrayed and stabbed in the back more than once. Robb Stark was his father’s son as an honorable man and was a natural as a military commander, but he was a novice as a politician and king. He never learned to think of the potential consequences of his actions and his family lost everything as a result. Sansa Stark was an innocent girl who was tormented by her Lannister captors. She watched her father die, was beaten by the Kingsguard, became Joffrey’s plaything, used as a pawn by Littlefinger, married against her will twice, and was violated by the Boltons. Arya Stark was a tomboy with an adventurous spirit, but the adventure she received was beyond traumatic. She watched her father die, was forced to survive on her own with some help from unlikely allies, witnessed the Red Wedding, experienced the horrors of the War of the Five Kings, and endured the brutal training of the Faceless Men of Braavos. Bran Stark who was crippled for life, forced out of his home, witnessed the atrocities of the Ironborn and the Boltons, endured a hellish journey beyond the Wall, got hunted by White Walkers, and lost his humanity when he inherited the power of the Three-Eyed Raven. Rickon Stark was the youngest of the Stark children and easily the most traumatized of all his siblings. Before the Starks’ hardships began, Rickon lived a carefree life, but when the hardships began, his youth and complete inexperience made it impossible to understand why they could not go home or why his parents were not present. Such conditions can psychologically ruin a kid his age. Then Rickon was murdered by Ramsay Snow during the Battle of the Bastards, triggering yet another injustice against the Starks.
Now, we move on to one of the more complicated characters: Jon Snow. Jon Snow was born a Targaryen and raised as a Stark. Most of his life, he thought he was a bastard and was afflicted by the social stigma that being a bastard came with. He spent time at the Night’s Watch, where he forfeited any claim to any land, wealth, marriage, or titles. After a time, he was betrayed and murdered by his own men. Even after he united the North and its allies against the White Walkers, helped end the Lannisters’ tyranny, and ended Daenerys’s reign of terror, Jon was sent back to the Night’s Watch once again. Even after all he sacrificed to improve the world, Jon lost everything and had no reward for all of his efforts. Also, as the one true king, Jon should be the one ruling the Seven Kingdoms and even displayed a natural talent for kingship, but he threw his birthright away.
We now move on to my least favorite noble family: House Lannister. Jaime’s and Cersei’s children were victims of both their circumstances and the schemes of their family. As evil and irredeemable as Joffrey was, I cannot help but feel pity for him. Due to his incestuous bloodline, Joffrey was cursed with the same mental illness that plagued the Targaryens. Also, Joffrey was spoiled his entire life by his mother and never learned the importance of discipline or consequences. Finally, Joffrey was lied to his entire life into believing he was the legitimate heir of King Robert Baratheon when he really did not have a single drop of royal blood in his veins. All of this resulted in Joffrey’s psychopathic personality that we have all grown to hate. With Myrcella, she inherited her mother’s beauty but none of her cruelty. Despite her Lannister blood, Myrcella was an innocent child who was killed because of the crimes her family inflicted upon others. Tommen was weak-willed and easily manipulated by those around him. In fact, he was so weak-willed that he killed himself when he witnessed the extent of his mother’s cruelty. Overall, these children were used and exploited as pawns by the schemes and ambitions of their family and have no idea who and what they really are.
In general, I cannot help but wonder how these Game of Thrones children would have turned out if their upbringings and circumstances were different. Would they be able to live a full life? Would they become different people? So many questions and so many scenarios to consider. For my third fantasy book, I will be drawing inspiration from the possible fates of these children could have faced if their lives were different. These scenarios would serve as the basis of the character profiles for my protagonist’s children.